A LONG-serving Poole councillor was out canvassing for the United Kingdom Independence Party within two days of confirming he was leaving the Conservatives.
Tony Woodcock, a former member of the borough’s cabinet, confirmed on Monday that he was defecting from the Tory party, which he said had been “modernised and detoxified out of existence”.
His departure leaves the Conservatives with only one more seat than the Liberal Democrat opposition on Poole council.
On Wednesday, UKIP sent out a picture of Cllr Woodcock canvassing in his Parkstone ward with their prospective parliamentary candidate, David Young.
John Butler, UKIP Poole Branch chairman, said: “Tony is a councillor of great experience and integrity, who has always fought for common sense. He will be a considerable asset in Poole as we develop our local campaign for the May 2015 elections.
“Because UKIP does not impose a whip on its councillors, Tony can represent his constituents as he thinks best, free of any pressure to toe a party political line.”
Cllr Woodcock has said the modern Tory party is ‘not now the Conservative Party I have worked for for 40 years’.
He said his main local concern was the Navitus windfarm, “which will cost us all an arm and a leg, will not consistently produce the goods, will be environmentally risky and will despoil our heritage coast”.
He added: “Residents’ objections have been shunned by all Poole parties when I have asked for a fair representation of the other side of the case. Requests for all residents to be informed and allowed to speak have been turned down.”
Poole council leader Cllr Elaine Atkinson said Cllr Woodcock’s departure was a “sad day for the Conservatives in Poole”.
“It's been clear that he’s been unhappy for some time.
“However, we can’t allow narrow issues, that don’t properly reflect the views of the majority of people in Poole, to stop us from focusing on jobs, the economy and growth,” she said.
“Tony should remember that we are the only party that plans to give the people of Poole the chance to vote on Europe.”